‘Red Dog’ gets Capitol congratulations from Sebelius

? After leading approximately 150 people in Lawrence through a workout Tuesday morning, Don “Red Dog” Gardner paid a visit to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Gardner, 67, has led Red Dog’s Dog Days community workout program for 23 years and recently was named the state’s first “Hometown Health Hero” by the Governor’s Council on Fitness.

After the early-morning workout at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, he and wife Beverly, daughter Leslie Smith, three grandchildren and friends drove to the Capitol for a photo opportunity with Sebelius.

Sebelius thanked Gardner for his work.

“I’m so excited about what you are doing,” said Sebelius, who is an avid runner. “I’ve watched it from afar.”

She said it would be great if Dog Days could be extended statewide.

Under the program, Gardner, a retired Lawrence police officer, and his volunteers lead residents of all ages and physical activity levels in stretches, calisthenics and aerobic activities.

The sessions are free and open to the public. They currently are offered at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in Memorial Stadium.

Gardner gave Sebelius a KU Jayhawks cap and Dog Days T-shirt and visor.

Gardner said more people, even youngsters, are becoming aware of the need to stay fit.

“We’re just getting more and more people. You see more and more little kids coming,” he said.

He said high gas prices also may lead to increased participation.

“You can’t get in your car and drive to Colorado as many times as you like because of gas prices,” he said. “You have to stay at home and do things.”

Gardner advised folks to try to get physically active, but not to do too much too soon.

“Just get involved and do what you can do,” he said. “Don’t go out here and do so much and have a heart attack. Use your head.”